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    Saturday, September 24, 2022

    WNBA misses another opportunity to promote their game

    Mohegan — At the very moment Tiffany Hayes' halfcourt shot won the game Tuesday night, ESPN was airing ... wait for it ... cornhole.

    Darts weren't available, apparently.

    Perhaps one day the WNBA and ESPN can explain why this week with no baseball can't become a showcase/infomercial for the longest running women's professional sports league of them all.

    Seriously. Aside from Home Run Derby, there's nothing else to watch, really, aside from the All-Star game, which is about as riveting as waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Once again, this wonderful chance to showcase the league (there's no national television game on tonight either) is wasted.

    And this particular game, another gutbusting loss for the Sun, was wonderfully entertaining nonetheless. Hayes' halfcourt shot as time ran out put a bow on a game that could have been measured in first downs.

    It was testy and physical. Technical fouls galore. Curt Miller got T'd for stomping his feet too violently (No, really). Miller ripped off his coat moments later. The best referee in the building was spectator Greg Keith, a member of Eastern board, who surely couldn't have done any worse than Eric Brewton, Byron Jarrett and Jenna Schroeder, whose postgame film session likely lasted longer than some marriages.

    Anyhoo, the Dream rallied from a 79-72 deficit in the final 5:15, capitalizing on their own grit and the Sun's rampant carelessness to earn a wild 86-83 win. Atlanta, coached by former Sun assistant Nicki Collen, is a crisp 3-0 against the daughters of Sun this season.

    It was the second time in a week the Sun lost at home on a buzzer beater, primarily because of an inability to run good offense in the closing seconds. Jasmine Thomas was the culprit both times, taking a bad shot at the end of the game against New York, thus allowing for Shevonte Zellous' last-second basket. In this game, Thomas' turnover led to Hayes' heroics.

    This is a bit of a concern. Thomas, the team's leader, finished 5-for-18 with four turnovers Tuesday night. If the point guard can't do better than that, summer's end will come quickly.

    Meanwhile, there's Hayes, the former UConn guard, who somehow didn't make the All-Star team. She's been terrific all year (17.3 points per game), certainly more deserving than Minnesota's Seimone Augustus (10.3 points per game). But then, this is the WNBA, where star power trumps production.

    "I believe Tiffany is the best two-way two-guard in the league right now," Collen said. "It's a disappointment to see her not on the All-Star team."

    Collen said that no member of her team made a halfcourt shot during shootaround, which, naturally, led to nothing but net during the biggest moment of the day.

    UConn fans, for whatever reason, remain fairly tepid toward Hayes, who never captured their hearts. They should be really proud of what she's become ... and really irritated at the All-Star snub. At least she's playing in a good place for a good coach in Collen.

    The Sun, meanwhile, should pray they don't see Atlanta again this year. Collen has her old team pegged.

    "I know their tendencies," she said.

    That much was evident in the final five minutes, when the Sun scored four points.

    "Curt and I think very similarly," Collen said. "It's kind of eerie sometimes how we think alike so much."

    The Sun have today off and will prepare for Friday night's game with league-leading Seattle. In comes Brenna Stewart and Sue Bird before what figures to be a big crowd.

    They'll have to settle for a good show from Tuesday night, one certainly that might have drawn an extra viewer or two on ESPN, with a dearth of other sports to watch.

    There's always cornhole, apparently.

    Maybe tonight it's kickball.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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